Competitive Intelligence

Tactical, Operational & Strategic Analysis of Markets, Competitors & Industries

Hi, everyone! My name is Jennifer. I've read about this site in the past, but never got to check it out before today. Seems like this is a great place to learn about the field!

A little bit about me to lead into my question... I got a paralegal associates degree in 2000 and went back to complete my bachelor degree in criminal justice (thinking to go to law school) a few years later. During my last term, I had a Fundamentals of Intelligence class and I fell in love with intel so much that I stayed on to complete an 18-credit intel analysis certificate (which focused mainly on criminal intel analsyis). While I would love to work for the government, family issues preclude me from moving, so I began focusing my efforts on competitive intelligence. I was lucky enough to land a job as a research associate for a law firm and its affiliated investment bank. I've been there about a year and half and I really like it so far. (I have been trying to expand our department's role in the firm and have made progress since I started.)

Here's the thing... The firm will pay for me to go to grad school, but it has to be a benefit to them and be local because they do not pay for online degrees - which pretty much leaves an MBA or a law degree. I found a local MBA program that I am interested in, but I would like some opinions on how valuable you believe an MBA to be to CI? Do any of you have one? Has it helped you in this profession? (How? If not, why?)

Any help/opinons would be greatly appreciated!


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Dear Jennifer,


MBA actually gets you to understand the Management Jargon, so when the white collar dudes talk about simple issues in complex jargon in the Board Room, it does not sound like greek and latin.

So for an Intelligence wizard, there are no surprises or limitations except one's Perception.

Vivek Raghuvanshi
If your firm is footing the bill, then why not?

You can tell them, ie pitch to your boss:

"Strategy Formulation means Continuous Strategy Revision"

So, to Position the law firm in the target segment and to acquire customers on one hand and retain them on the other, you require to do MBA. ( Sales Pitch )

But think, do you really require to do an MBA?

It may help you to understand your clients, if you shift to:

Corporate Law / Mercantile Law / Environmental Law
Hello Jennifer: Your question is a good one. An MBA can be helpful in CI, but it is by no means a necessity. Most senior CI practitioners do go on for graduate education, and yes, a fair percentage of these do have or get their MBAs. Having said that, other degree programs can be worthwhile paths, including law (many techniques will help both your CI efforts as well as your employer), journalism/communications, library and information science, and certain specialties in the arts and social sciences which require you to learn and employ advanced reasoning and research skills. Unfortunately, there are precious few recognized and viable graduate programs which emphasize CI, something a few of us here in this community have lamented about for several decades.

Most important is to identify something that can mutually benefit your employer and yourself in the long-run. Most graduate programs also allow for at least some degree of flexibility in their requirements, which may allow you to customize your degree program to meet your shared needs and objectives. The fact that you want to get additional education is a feather in your cap and usually a precursor trait of most successful intelligence pros.

Wishing you well in your endeavors, Dr. Craig Fleisher (a long-time MBA prof who recognizes both advantages and disadvantages in these programs and hopes that people do their due diligence before embarking upon any program of serious graduate study)
Hi Jennifer,

Welcome.. Interesting question you have raised.

I am an MBA and I work for a CI firm. We recruit MBAs (as there are no grads with specific CI degrees) and non-MBAs. We have found that MBA is not exactly a necessity. But as prof. Raghuvanshi has said it helps to understand business jargon / concepts and ALSO adds credibility when talking to the decision maker (who is invariably an MBA). Thats about it.. from a purely intel perspective there is nothing which a MBA can do and a non-MBA cannot.

So you could take up an MBA or Masters program (some have CI electives like Leicester Business school in the UK. Am sure the US would have a few too) or you can go for an Intel program with a focus on CI (like Mercyhurst College in Erie PA).

Hope this helps

Alright Jenny,

Lets get serious. Here it comes.

Why do you wish to pursue Law?

If it was to make the difference :

1. Fugitive Recovery
2. Cold Cases - solve murder cases and take the criminal to Justice
3. Or Debt Collection - which certain law firms are into.
4. Bail Bonds - Bond Agent

Make a Choice. Why Law?

Now if Fugitive Recovery or solving Cold Cases (Murder), is not your cup of tea, then look at Debt Collection which is a lucrative branch for legal firms where you collect 10% for your agency, of the Debt you recover or seek a career as an Bail Bond Agent.

Intelligence here is JUST a Tool to collect Information.

If Fugitive Recovery or solving Cold Cases or Bail Bond Agent or Debt Collection or taking criminals to Justice does not interest you then see Corporate Law / Labour Law

If Law is not your Passion then you just want to be a white collar worker, do an MBA.

MBA in Competitive Intelligence is good, provided you wish to work for:

1. Risk Management agency
2. Management Consulting agency
3. Helping your corporate organisation in Corporate Warfare
4. Working in Competitive Intelligence cell in the organisation diluted as Market Research or Corporate Affairs or whatever ie any function in the organisation, be it HR / Finance etc.

Think about it.
Hi, prof. Raghuvanshi
Law has been my passion since I started college. The irony of your post is that I worked in bail bonds from 2000-2007. I did litigation, but also acted as a liason with the bounty hunters. Overall, I really liked it there; however, due to a number of reasons with which I won't bore you all, I ended up getting laid off in 2007. I did learn enough to know that I don't need a J.D. to work in the business. Since the closest law school is over an hour away, I'm not relishing making that drive 4x a week. (I did it once a week for undergrad and that was enough...) At that point, I thought I would move to D.C. to work for the federal government intelligence community, but that dream needs to be put on hold for the foreseeable future due to family issues. So, I decided to pursue competitive intelligence, which at least allows me to do some of what I love and has many different career paths.

A lot of the work I do is for the investment bank (affiliated business of the firm). If I were to get the MBA, I would likely transition into an analyst position there once I am done, which would give me the chance to learn more about the business world (since I only really know bail bonds). After that, I would probably pusue some sort of financial intelligence, corporate warfare or market research career path

While helping companies isn't the same as helping people (in gov't intelligence), it at least allows me to work in the field!

Thanks to all of you for your imput. I have to get to work now, but I'll stop by over lunch/after work to reply with some additional thoughts. :)

This is a great question, and even greater considering you are thinking of entering the field. Welcome!

After 13 years in intelligence, I can say that there is no specific degree essential to the profession. The words that come up time and time again are: curiosity, intellectual rigor, perisistence, skepticism, insight. You may notice that such qualities would make for a great manager, doctor, attorney, and patent analyst - it's pretty general. The great thing about the field is the lack of dogma and the applicability of the skills to any industry or activity.

Getting an MBA will help you talk to other MBAs in their language. If you want to do very numbers-driven, growth-oriented business, then the MBA degree will provide a good set of tools. If you want to do intel for law firms, a JD will help you talk to the partners in a language that makes them comfortable. In either case, you will not learn CI at school; you will learn it through researching knotty questions.

I myself have a Master's in International Affairs, which I suppose deepened my knowledge of global systems. Did it help with CI? Not really. I still struggle to understand how constructivist political analysis versus neoliberalism might come up in a professional context. To be honest, I got the degree mostly so people would not question why I didn't get a Masters. And then I kept on researching issues in a complex world. That's the real education.

Good luck in your search.
Dear Jenny,

It is about Passion. It is about proving to oneself rather than the society at large.

If law is your passion like you said, and you received some setbacks, do not let go of it. It is our passion that gives us the competitive edge. It is our passion that helps us Focus and work becomes play.

The more people laugh at you or try to subsitute you, it will not break you. When we follow our passion, we know who we are and we know what we can do. They will get jealous of you, for what takes them hours to analyse, you will take minutes.

The data joined in revealing ways will become information and information analysed will become actionable intelligence. If you are passionate, the information will talk to you. You will be able to sift through right information and achieve breakthroughs.

INSIGHT will develop and you will start "thinking outside the box".

I believe you must go in for a advanced law degree and also a degree in competitive intelligence.

If we follow our passion then information talks to us. We are able to see what others cannot see ie "read between the lines"

Jenny, it is not about helping people or helping companies or working in the field.

It is very cold out there in the field Jenny.

It is actually about "Making the Difference" in the lives of people and organisations.

"Keep your eye on the ball", Jenny.

Whenever you get the blues in the River of Life, try and understand you have to leave your footprints in the "Sands of Time"

"Eye of the Tiger" - Survivor

Risin up -- back on the street,
Did my time, took my chances
Went the distance now I'm back on my feet
Just a man and his will to survive --
So many times, it happens too fast,
You trade your passion for glory,
Don't lose your grip on the dreams of the past,
You must fight just to keep them alive

*its the eye of the tiger,
Its the thrill of the fight,
Rising up to the challenge of our rival,
And the last known survivor
Stalks his prey in the night,
And hes watching us all
With the eye of the tiger.*

Face to face -- out in the heat,
Hangin tough, stayin hungry
They stack the odds still we take to the street
For the kill, with the skill to survive --

( * repeat)

Risin up -- straight to the top,
Had the guts, got the glory
Went the distance, now I'm not gonna stop
Just a man and his will to survive --

( * repeat)


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